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Blog Pattern Digital Organizing – using Pepperplate

Have you ever heard of Pepperplate?  It’s a free program/app for your phone and computer that is used to organize recipes and then to create meal plans.  I started using it and it’s great – not that I’m meal planning more but it’s an easy way to organize all of those recipes I find on recipe sites and blogs.  And you can drag pictures of the food into the pop-up window so that you can see what you might want to make, too.  As a visual person, this is great!

The best part about it is after I import a recipe into it – then I can print it out onto a page without the rest of the blog or website stuff printing too – I just get the recipe all nice and neat.  And then it can be added to my binder of recipes cause I like cooking from paper more than my computer.  And, with the cell phone app, if I see something on sale at the grocery store I can look through my recipes in the program and know exactly what  else I need to make this great English Fruit Cake beyond bananas!

See, the top picture is what the page looks like to normal print, the second is what it looks like in Pepperplate.  Nice!

pp 1

pp 2

After looking for a pattern for a pretty chevron afghan pattern (I’ve been wanting a pattern for a large chevron, not the little ripples from the 70’s) and reading a comment by another reader asking for a way to print it with just the pattern printing… it occurred to me.  Pepperplate!

pp 3

Yup – you can use the recipe site to organize all of your blog finds of patterns!

(And this is a great large chevron – she says they are about 8 inches wide!  So, click on the picture to get to the original blog pattern!  And yes, I’m hoping to get one of these made for my living room!)

There are a few tricks… and I’m happy to share as I think this might change how I organize all of the patterns I save for use at some point in the future. And at this point – I have enough patterns saved on my computer to make one every week for like – forever.

The first step is of course to get a Pepperplate account and install the bookmarklet on your toolbar of your web browser.  The program is free and easy!  Then, put the app on your smart phone.  I’ll assume that you can figure this out and if not, their help section is pretty useful.

How to Use Pepperplate for Patterns (or recipes)

  • Highlight and drag.  You can use your mouse to highlight text and then click and drag it into the Pepperplate window.  Do this for the title, ingredients/materials and directions.
  • Click and drag the picture.  If you click and drag on a picture in a blog, most of the time it will drag into the picture square on the first page of the Pepperplate window.  Sometimes this doesn’t work, so I think click on the image and save it to my computer.  Then, after I have the pattern/recipe saved I can go into it on the Pepperplate main page and edit it and upload the picture from my computer.  Not sure why this happens but it does and is easy to fix.
  • Edit on the Pepperplate main page.  Go to the main page of the Pepperplate site and edit your recipe/pattern.  You can fix stuff up and most importantly – add categories to it.  There is a trick in that – type the section you want, like “crochet” but to populate the category, add a coma after the word.  It will then go into the field.  This will allow you to search by afghan, sweater, potholder, casserole, dinner… whatever.  MUCH easier to do this when starting your collection than after you have 100 recipes in it.  Trust me.
  • Adding dimensions.  In the “yield” box put the size of the finished project.
  • Add the URL to the original website to the “description” box under the title in the edit mode. This will help in going back to the site to check comments or for updates – plus to find whatever other amazing new patterns/recipes the site might have now!
  • Print from the Pepperplate site.  After you’ve imported your pattern into the program, edited it to clean things up to what you need, now you can print!  It’s a nice clean print and isn’t cluttered with extraneous stuff from the original website that you didn’t want anyways.
  • Cell phone access.  The best part of this hack?  Just like with recipes, if you install the app onto your smart phone, now you’ll have your pattern collection with you at the craft store! Which means you’ll no longer wonder how many skeins of yarn you need, you can review your private notes for a pattern while at the store.  It’s easy.  It’s free.  It’s a great hack.


DIY Egg Scale

first eggs

My chickens are laying!  The broken egg and then the one on the left are normal sized eggs – probably large to extra large.  The rest are my ladies first eggs!  And looking at how small they are, I remembered my mom having an egg scale and then wondering how much my eggs weighed.


And then it occurred to me – mom still has an old fashioned egg scale.  Like this one for sale on Ebay.


And yes, it is for sale for $49 starting bid plus $12 shipping.


And yes, you can buy a new one from the same company for $52 plus shipping.  This new one includes grams and not just ounces like the old scale has.  And it looks like a chicken so it justifies the expense.  Right?  No?  Hmm… welll…

Then you’ve come to the right place.  I love the old scale and already put in a request for my mothers should she ever not want hers anymore.  In the mean time, I came up with my own version.

First – the weights.

Egg weight smallegg weight

I came up with my own egg weights chart and made it so that you can download the PDF and have your own copy.  Just click on the words “egg weight” below the egg and you’ll get a PDF of that image to print out.

Next – the scale part.  I’m assuming that most people have a digital kitchen scale already.  Most big box stores carry them for around $10-15 – much less than the new fancy egg scales cost!  They’re useful for so many other things in cooking, too, so if you don’t have one now would be a good time to invest in a simple scale.  Get the one with grams – much more accurate!


So, take an old egg carton like so…


Cut out one egg cell…


Place on scale and then zero the scale out so as to not include the weight of the carton when weighing the egg.  Be sure to have the scale set on grams!




Weigh eggs.  As you can see, I have a tiny one at 29 grams, well below the pewee level of 35 grams.  None of mine are even into the small egg size yet!


Refer to your hand egg size chart that you’ve taped inside of your cabinet door like I did.

So, why is this helpful?  Well, if you have your own hens and are wanting to use these first eggs while cooking, it’s good to know about what you need to sub for a full sized large or extra large egg.  In my case, I used 3 pewee eggs instead of 2 XLs when making granola bars recently.  Knowing the weights helps in the substitution because really it is about volume of egg contents and not number of eggs.

I hope you find this useful!  Happy chickens everyone!

Upcycled Mailing Envelope Tutorial

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So, this isn’t much of a tutorial but… it is an insanely easy and free way to make a mailing envelope!

Since I have so many of my baby bibs to mail out to friends and our future contest winner, I needed something to mail them in…. and looking at my recycling containers, I had lots of flat boxes!  You know the type – cereal or cracker boxes.


So, take an empty box and open up both ends.


Flatten the box.


Tuck in the end flaps on one side into the box.


Then use clear packing tape to tape the other side over the end.

Now, put your fairly flat item (like 2 baby bibs!) inside.  Repeat the above procedure for the open end.



Add mailing labels and take it to the post office!   Hopefully, the lucky recipient will recycle the box after they get whatever goody you sent them!

Pillowcase Clothespin Apron Tutorial

I’m SO EXCITED to share with you my latest creation!!!!

This is a clothespin apron made out of a PILLOWCASE!  No, really!

Do you love it?  Because, you’re in luck!  You can make your own!  I’m giving away this tutorial for FREE!

The beauty of this pattern is, the only thing you need (besides the normal sewing machine stuff) is a pillowcase and some thread.  That’s it!  The pattern makes use of the entire case, there are only a few tiny scraps left when you are done making the apron!

And, the apron is double thick – so it’s nice and sturdy.  It is great for clothespins but also for picking beans, gathering eggs, collecting nuts, craft projects – lots of stuff!

Apron specifics:
– should hold about 150 clothespins
– about 15 inches wide
– about 14 inches tall
– straps are about 32 inches long each

What, you don’t sew?  Well, you’re in luck, later this week, this apron, the pink and yellow floral one, will be offered up for FREE in a fabulous GIVEAWAY!  But, you’ll have to come back later to enter…

Interested in buying one pre-made?  I have the top two aprons for sale over on my Etsy shop!

So, before offering this tutorial up for you guys… I had a couple of sewing friends give the tutorial a run through.  My friend Edna, a sewing NOVICE, made this pretty apron!

And my new friend Inder, of the fabulous blog Inder Loves Folk Art, made this over the weekend too!

My HUGE thanks to Edna and Inder for helping me get the kinks of the pattern.

So, speaking of that pattern…

First, please respect all of my hard work on coming up with the pattern and then putting it all together.  I hope that you make a ton of them, give them as gifts, sell them at local craft fairs and farmers markets… But please, do NOT sell these on line.

As a stay at home momma, I’m trying to make a few extra dollars while here at home and selling stuff on Etsy is how I’m doing it right now.  I know that many of you are in the same boat!  The original reason for this blog was to promote my Etsy shop (though it has turned into it’s own creature recently) with the hopes of making a few sales.

Thanks for understanding.

On to the tutorial… it’s a PDF file and you can download it here:

pillowcase clothespin apron tutorial final

If you make up an apron, pretty please with sugar and chocolate kisses on top, send me a picture?  I’d love to feature it on the blog!

Have fun and happy clotheslines!



Salt Spout

OK, so when I saw this I immediately thought – well, duh.  How clever is this?  This is a super easy way to make a pour spout lid for canning jars – for free.  Perfect for sugar for your cereal, the office coffee room, baking soda for cleaning… lots of options!  And, I am betting that it wouldn’t be too hard to take some scrapbooking paper or a bit of wrapping paper and pretty up the top a bit, too.  Or even get creative with some markers… so many ideas!

Many thanks to My New Old School for letting me share this with you!  Her blog is full of fun old timy things – kind of like this blog!

How to Hang Out Clothes

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Line drying clothes is so old fashioned it boggles the mind!  Long before electricity and indoor dryers were invented, people line dried everything…   But, for at least the past 50 years, most folks have had electric dryers and not used the line (well, except for some of us, who grew up using both – spoiled folk that we were) – and as a result, many people may not know how to put clothes on line!

So, this is my effort to help re-educate the masses who have lost this knowledge, simple though it may be.  I realize that you veteran line dryers might think that this beneath your elevated knowledge, but perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two, too!  And, if you know any tricks to putting clothes to line that I don’t cover, please let me know!  I really want this to be a conversational blog and I hope to learn as much from you as you do from me!

Step 1:  put out your pants

As lines sag in the middle and as my husband and I are both over 6 feet tall, our pants are rather long so…. I’ve found that it is best to put the pants at the ends of the line, closes to the pole, where they have the greatest vertical space to hang.

Two pins is all it takes, even on heavy wet pants in the wind.  (I grew up in SW Kansas, trust me when I say that I know wind!)

Step 2 – Hang out your Shirts

Shirts, especially long sleeved, also are fairly long, so those go out next.

I hang them upside down so that any wrinkles caused by the pins is in the part that will most likely be tucked in (or not as noticed when talking to folks…)

Then, put one corner of a second shirt with the corner of the first shirt using only one pin!

Repeat until all of your shirts are hung out!

When hanging out t-shirts and other knit items, I tend to leave a bit of slack between the pins – I don’t want to stretch the clothes while they dry as they will stay that way until you wash them again.

Step 3:  Shorts

Shorts are much like pants… Except on the knit ones, I fold the entire waste band over the line and not just one side.   The heavier fabrics don’t stretch as much and also take longer to dry, so only pinning one side works better… knit ones dry faster and also stretch, so pinning both sides helps on that.

Step 4:  The small stuff

Next comes the undies, the socks and the rags.   As you can see, I fold the socks over at the top and pin both layers… socks can take a while to dry, but pinning only one layer may cause the ankle to stretch.  Oh the conundrum!  On the undies, I pin at the side seam for ladies and girls and pin like for knit shorts for men’s.  (Sorry, hubby just did laundry so I can’t show off his skivies!)

Now, I know that some of you might be a bit squeemish at the thought of displaying your unmentionables out in the open for all to see.  I totally understand that.  I happen to live on a dead end street and the only neighbor that goes past my house is a doctor – so I figure that he’s seen everything before anyways…  That said, when I lived in a more public space, I would hang the little bits on the middle row, in affect “hiding” them between other clothes on the other two lines.   If that is still too much visibility for you… there is always drying racks that you can place outside away from view, or inside where absolute modesty can be kept in tact.

In our house, we use cloth rags and napkins for nearly everything.  The rags came from a big box store and were super cheap… and we have I think around 40.  (Come on, I have an almost 3 year old who likes to use them to play with or clean her feet or… we go through a lot of rags in one day!)  You could pin them like shirts, corner to corner, but that would take a lot of space.  So, I fold over a corner and use one pin.  Saves on pins and space!  And really, dry is dry – they’re just rags!

The End – Load One


As you can see,  my one load of laundry is done.  In this 90 degree heat with only 45% humidity, some of the things that I hung out first are already nearly dry by the time I was done.  In Kansas, most things were totally dry by that point.   It all just depends on your humidity.  Normally in this part of Texas, with humidity so high, it could take all afternoon for clothes to dry… so putting laundry out in the morning is needed.  But, we’re in a super drought right now, and as far as I can see, the only advantage/positive spin that can be put on it is the quickness of drying clothes on the line!

You might have also noticed that I tend to have a bit of a pattern on which clothes go out when… generally for good reasons (like vertical space) but part of it is me just being weird.  I’m not like that much inside of the house, yet…

 Step 5 – Sheets and Towels

Towels, like pants, tend to be long… so if I can, I will put them on the end, too.  Sometimes that is just not an option, in which case I will use 3 pins and put them up sideways.

Sheets, no matter the size of the bed (well, except for crib/toddler sizes) are big and sometimes difficult.  The flat sheet is easy enough… fold over the line lengthwise and use 3 pins.

The fitted sheets though… you do what you can.  I still use three pins, but it will still look funny.  Luckily, sheets tend to dry fast, so not being stretched out won’t slow you down too much.

Pillow cases are like shirts – pin end to end.  And, no, the cases don’t match the sheets… 🙂


So, what happens if you drop a wet something on the dirty ground?  Well, I only dust it off as best I can and then pin it up to dry.  No need to re-wash (unless it lands in something wet that can’t be brushed off that I won’t talk about here) … in all of my years of line drying, I have never once gotten sick or died from wearing something that had hit the ground.  🙂  You won’t either…   (And yes, that really was an accidental dropping – I think that 3 pieces hit the ground this go around!)

Clothes basket

What do I do with the clothes basket while putting the clothes out?  I skoot it in the ground with my foot!  This works particularly well if you have grass… but we have little stumps of yaupon (a holly bush native to here that grows everywhere in the trees) which causes the basket to get stuck sometimes.   We could dig out all of the little stumps, but I work around it… Later on on the blog, I’ll have a tutorial for a basket cart in case you have stumps or can’t/don’t want to bend over all of the time.

I also leave the basket outside after putting the last load of the day out… this works OK here where the wind is still a breeze… but up in Kansas, it could often blow away.  Do this at your own discretion!

I hope that this has helped you out – maybe learned a bit and at least you’ve seen my husband’s socks!  (A dream come true, I’m sure!)  I hope that you go out and dry your own clothes for free!

Next week, I’ll be talking about the advantages of line drying… later on, we’ll have laundry soap recipes, simple hints and tricks of the trade, the basket cart tutorial… and more!  (Bet you never thought that there was this much stuff to talk about clothes drying, did you?)  🙂

Blue Jean Potholder Tutorial

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Mother’s Day is coming up soon… are you like me and totally lacking in creative new ideas of what to send both of the moms in your life from your kidlet?  I had the same problem and then…

My soon to be 3 year old daughter had a couple of pairs of blue jeans that either had holes or near holes in the knees and as it is summer (at least here in central Texas) … it was time to cut them off into summer jean shorts.  Toddlers look so cute in jean shorts!

I very nearly threw away the bottoms of the legs… too narrow, not enough fabric… trying not to keep all of this STUFF that I don’t need and won’t use.   Then, it occurred to me … the bottoms were about the size of my potholders!

So, that’s how this idea came about… my need for a few new potholders for myself, a need for grandmother Mother’s Day gifts and a desire to upcycle something that would otherwise go into the landfill.


bleach pen

pair of blue jean leg bottoms

cotton batting or flannel (from an old shirt would be great)

sewing machine

toddler hands

scrap paper


Cut off your jean legs as close to the holes in the knee as possible…  My potholder that I had made before was about 6 x 6 1/2 inches square – so I used that as a starting point for my jean potholder size.

Then, line up the hemmed bottom of the jean and measure up 8 inches on each side.  Draw a line across (I used a black sharpee).  My jean leg was about 6 inches wide at the bottom… I would go a smidge smaller than that or an inch or so bigger, but usually that dimension is pretty good for potholder usage.

Now, measure your jean bottoms to make sure what their measurements are… mine were 6 x 8 inches.  I allowed for a 1/2 inch seam allowance at the top and then sewing the legs shut “in the ditch” above the bottom seam… and then taking a smidge off for volume.

Cut your flannel or cotton batting (only use cotton as it is safer with heat than the polyester is) – my final size was 5 3/4 x 6 3/4.  CUT 2 per leg.

Turn the legs inside out and position the two side seams to where they are both on the same side (the back and front of the legs are different widths) so that there are no seams showing on one side.  Sew a 1/2 inch seam across the top.  Clip the corners.

Turn right side out and iron flat, making sure that the corners are out.

Take the cotton or flannel and fit it up inside of the jean leg.  You will want it all the way to the top of the seam and laying flat… the goal is to not have any showing along the hem line.  BUT, I did… and plan to trim it out with little scissors later on.

Currently, my potholders live in a drawer next to my stove, but I used to always hang them on hooks on my fridge… If you do too, this would be the time to use some bias tape or something to make a loop and position it in the corner.

Now, sew the leg shut just above the hemline.  Sew again 1/2 inch from all edges and the row of stitching above the hemline… this is to lock down the batting/flannel so that it doesn’t shift inside of the jeans (a bit like quilting).

The next part is a bit tricky – getting your toddler to cooperate long enough to trace around their hands on some scrap paper.  I ended up having to trace her hands several times as once she figured out what I was doing, she wanted her own to color.  This also makes a great part of the gift!

Take your sharpee and trace aroud your hand prints and then use another piece of paper to copy the lines onto.   I used notebook paper and it worked just fine.   You will want to keep the original to use again as we all know how much toddlers like to cooperate.

Cut out your second set of hands and place on the backside (seamless side) of the jeans inside of the sewing lines.   (As you can see in the right potholder, I forgot to do that on one of mine!)

Now you should do what I say and not as I did… do a bleach test!  Take your bleach pen and a bit of the scrap jeans that are not potholders and draw a line on it.  Repeat every 5 minutes and wait 5 minutes after the last line is drawn.  I would suggest starting at a 30 minute interval… so 6 lines at 5minutes apart.  Then, rinse the bleach off of the jeans and see what the lines look like.   Bleach pens normally work pretty quickly, but as I discovered, it’s hard to tell how bleached it is while the bleach gel is on it and… I waited 12 minutes and I have since decided that I should have left it on for longer for a more distinct outline.  Learn from my mistakes!  

(My only other bleach pen project was a Valentine’s shirt for Rosie – I used this tutorial.  Please refer to it for better instructions!)

Using the bleach pen, trace around the outline of your paper hands and then let it sit for as long as your previous bleach pen test determined.   Make sure that the edges of the bleach are as you want them as that is what the edges of the white will look like after it’s all washed out!

Carefully remove the paper from the jeans and throw it away (I used a plastic fork to lift it off) and then rinse the bleach gel off.  I had to use a kitchen brush to get it off – be careful that doing that doesn’t smudge your lines!  Now, wash your potholders with a load of towels or sheets or something …

Grandmas will LOVE  having their little hands help them with all of their meals and it’s a nice USEFUL gift that doesn’t cost much in money or time.  You could also stencil other things onto the jeans (I was thinking of  a simple flower outline or a very small doily like in the bleach pen tutorial…) or you can leave the potholders plain.

Have fun – and if you happen to make a pair of these up – I’d love to see pictures of your fnished products!